Marketing Strategy Experts : YellowWood Group : Business To Business (B2B) : Raleigh NC http://yellowwoodgroup.com Marketing Strategy : Business To Business (B2B) Marketing, Corporate Marketing Strategy : Government Strategy & Strategic Planning Fri, 31 Jul 2015 20:37:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 Small Business Strategyhttp://yellowwoodgroup.com/small-business-strategy http://yellowwoodgroup.com/small-business-strategy#respond Sun, 26 Jul 2015 03:26:16 +0000 http://yellowwoodgroup.com/?p=3264 Small Business Strategy: Leverage your unique competitive advantage

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Small Business
Strategy:

Leverage your unique
competitive advantage

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Enterprise Strategyhttp://yellowwoodgroup.com/enterprise-strategy http://yellowwoodgroup.com/enterprise-strategy#respond Sun, 26 Jul 2015 03:24:38 +0000 http://yellowwoodgroup.com/?p=3262 Enterprise Strategy: Align outcomes with meaningful objectives

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Enterprise
Strategy:

Align outcomes with
meaningful objectives

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Government Strategy:http://yellowwoodgroup.com/government-strategy http://yellowwoodgroup.com/government-strategy#respond Sun, 26 Jul 2015 03:16:56 +0000 http://yellowwoodgroup.com/?p=3259 Government Strategy: Focus on of the people, by the people, for the people

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Government Strategy:

Focus on of the people,
by the people, for the people

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Marketing and Sales: Can’t We All Just Get Along?http://yellowwoodgroup.com/marketing-and-sales-cant-we-all-just-get-along http://yellowwoodgroup.com/marketing-and-sales-cant-we-all-just-get-along#respond Sat, 25 Aug 2012 16:16:00 +0000 http://yellowwoodgroup.com/?p=1560 Sales and marketing teams, left to their own devices, do not speak the same language. They think they do, but they don’t. Sales teams speak the language of prospects, appointments, commitments, and closed deals. Marketing teams speak the language of exposure, brand awareness, impressions, and reach. Language conditions the way people think, act, and make […]

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Sales and marketing teams, left to their own devices, do not speak the same language. They think they do, but they don’t. Sales teams speak the language of prospects, appointments, commitments, and closed deals. Marketing teams speak the language of exposure, brand awareness, impressions, and reach. Language conditions the way people think, act, and make decisions. It shapes the way people view the world, sometimes in ways that are subtle. It’s for this reason that two people can have a conversation and walk away with completely different impressions of what was agreed upon.

Here’s a practical example of the way that this phenomenon can affect the relationship between sales and marketing. The word “lead” is defined differently by different organizations. Sometimes, people will say that they have “hot leads” or “warm leads” without a clear definition of exactly what it is that makes a lead “hot” or “warm.” Some sales reps, for example, will collect the name of a business owner from the receptionist at the front desk and call that a “warm lead.” Others might not call a lead “warm” until they have indicated interest.

There’s nothing more frustrating than passing a hot lead to the sales team, only to find out two weeks later than no one ever followed up. This is what happens when sales and marketing teams are not working from the same playbook.

The solution to this specific problem is simple. Define a set of measurable criteria that will determine if a lead is “hot.” You might also use a numerical index to score new leads according to their likelihood of converting. This practice is known as “lead scoring.” For example, you might assign an index of 0 to 100, wherein 100 represents a closed sale and 0 represents a dead lead. You might assign a lead score of 50 points if the customer calls with an inquiry. You could then train customer service representatives to ask questions, adding or subtracting points based on their answers. This type of system is one way to create a common set of language.  Metrics and scoreboards are extremely useful partly because the meaning of a number does not change from one culture to another.

Not everything can be quantified, but the practice of managing both the sales and marketing teams from the same set of metrics will help to gradually shift the way people communicate over time. Scoring systems can be implemented for nearly any process. For example, new recruits to the team could be scored during interviews based on measurable responses. But for scoring systems to work effectively, they need to be based on objective measurements, not scales of 1 to 10 based on how people feel. In other words, the same number has to mean the same thing, regardless of who took the measurement.

Metrics aside, the assimilation of the sales subculture and the marketing subculture into one larger culture are necessary if the two teams are to truly march to the same tune. You can’t accomplish this with a three-day off-site intensive or a one-week training program. This assimilation can only happen gradually, one day at a time. The practice of jointly involving sales and marketing team members in decisions that historically have been made by one team alone will make a difference. For example, the next time your marketing team designs a new flier, see what happens if you ask for input from the sales team. Invite your sales reps to bring a member of the marketing team along the next time they call on a prospect.

The process of getting marketing to walk lock-step with sales is easier said than done, but it’s absolutely essential to the health of any enterprise.

 

Challenge: what could you start doing today that would help your sales and marketing teams begin to operate more cohesively? How could you capture greater revenue opportunities by creating a sales and marketing super-team?

 

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Are You Selling Collaboratively?http://yellowwoodgroup.com/are-you-selling-collaboratively http://yellowwoodgroup.com/are-you-selling-collaboratively#respond Fri, 10 Feb 2012 21:23:42 +0000 http://olalah.com/yellowwood/?p=241 Too often, our enthusiasm to simply close the sale clouds our perspective. Not only are we leaving money on the proverbial table, but we are leaving something far more important on it. Opportunity! When we sell collaboratively, we roll up our sleeves and get a little dirt under our finger nails. We ask both the […]

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Too often, our enthusiasm to simply close the sale clouds our perspective. Not only are we leaving money on the proverbial table, but we are leaving something far more important on it. Opportunity! When we sell collaboratively, we roll up our sleeves and get a little dirt under our finger nails. We ask both the finite and the broad –sweeping questions. We probe. We reflect. We engage. In the end, we, as sales professionals, position ourselves as the non-expendable resource that our clients are craving. We become the catalyst of opportunity making.

Are you selling collaboratively?

Don’t assume that collaborative selling is merely the evolution of consultative selling. You would be mistaken. In a consultative selling relationship, sales professionals offer value, steer dialogue and uncover issues that could impede progress. In collaborative selling, sales professionals are highly involved in the interworkings of the clients’ businesses. Collaborative selling demands that we work lock-step with a variety of people within the companies were we collaborate. Selling collaboratively is not for the faint at heart. It’s not for the sales professionals who are happy to close the deal. Collaborative selling is for “sales rock stars”. If you don’t know whether you are a sales rock star or not, you probably aren’t, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be one . . . eventually.

If you’re interested in selling collaboratively, then take note, here’s 3 ways to jump start the journey.

1- Understand your clients’ industries. It’s not enough to understand the clients of your clients. Selling collaboratively means you dig deep into the industries of your clients and discover the nuances and trends that can impact how your clients might need to do business in the future.

2- Insert yourself into the infrastructure. Certainly not an easy feat, but one with amazing pay off potential. By inserting yourself into the infrastructure, you’ll have a voice, while maybe not a vote, but a voice. You will achieve the greatest of all sales rock star levels, the level of “influence”. When clients’ trust you and value your contribution to their company, you gain influence, which is invaluable in the collaborative selling relationship.

3- Build something together. That’s right! Offer up your most prized possession . . . your intellect. Help your clients expand their product lines, add to their suite of services or create something new altogether. Do it freely without regard to recognition or compensation. Do it because you can afford to be liberal with your ideals. Why this level of generosity? Because there is nothing more telling about whose interests you are looking out for (yours or theirs) then helping your clients be more profitable.

In my Breakthrough Advantage™ system for business owners, I share three “magical” questions that are essential in paving the road for selling collaboratively. Here’s one of three questions, “What’s working but could be better?” While you might not believe this question has magic when you say it to yourself, when you say it to a client, it opens a gate that no other question can.

In collaborative selling, asking a potent question like this means two things: 1– Clients trust you enough to fully (not half-heartedly) answer you and 2– You are sharp enough to listen for the opportunities cleverly disguised as problems. For in those moments of asking and answering and listening and speaking, sales rock stars know that the seeds of collaborative selling are hiding and the chance to be the catalyst of opportunity making grows.

The decision is yours, you can choose to simply sell and do alright by your clients, or you can sell collaboratively and make a difference in a way you never thought possible.

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Branding In The Blended Workplacehttp://yellowwoodgroup.com/branding-in-the-blended-workplace-2 http://yellowwoodgroup.com/branding-in-the-blended-workplace-2#respond Sun, 15 Jan 2012 21:29:09 +0000 http://olalah.com/?p=970 We are moving toward a part-time, short-term, outsourced, telecommuting, job-sharing, telepresence, IMing, text you later workforce. How in the world are marketers going to reinforce brand sentiment when the very people representing the brand are spread out from anywhere in the world? And just what are the implications for the companies behind the brands? Firms […]

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We are moving toward a part-time, short-term, outsourced, telecommuting, job-sharing, telepresence, IMing, text you later workforce. How in the world are marketers going to reinforce brand sentiment when the very people representing the brand are spread out from anywhere in the world? And just what are the implications for the companies behind the brands?

Firms of all sizes are moving toward using contractors and outsourcing rather than hiring full time employees, and this trend is likely to continue. Economic conditions necessitate slimmer budgets and greater flexibility as the tenure of the average employee continues to dwindle. On the surface, this dynamic appears to have created a branding crisis. How can you manage your brand message under conditions like these?

Organizations with Industrial Age mindsets are accustomed to managing their brands the old way: by exercising iron-fisted control over the brand message. When markets were less volatile and more predictable, adding permanent full-time employees was the most common way to grow a business.

Under the old model, employees designed their families’ lives to put the needs of the business first. People were proud to wear their employer’s logo on their shirts. People’s employers became part of their social identities. It was inevitable for a company’s values to take root in the DNA of its employees. It was possible to create an environment that would immerse team members in the language of one brand. By drilling daily routines into people over time, brands had the power to indelibly shape people’s thinking.

Fast-forward to 2011. Getting everyone on the same “brand page” is a constant challenge. People no longer attach personal significance to their jobs. Even full-time hires are more likely to think of an employer as a stepping stone than a career. With the advent of telecommuting, virtual offices, job sharing, and part-time executives, the culture has grown radically different.

When outsourcing enters the picture, the complexity thickens. How can a company instill its brand values into an outside vendor? How do you ensure that another company operates with the same commitment to quality that has made your company a success? How can you accomplish this when the vendor is 1,000 miles away from your office (or on the other side of the planet)? Furthermore, your outsourcing partners face the same high-turnover environment that your company does. It’s difficult enough for them to manage their own brands, let alone assimilate yours.

If your branding strategy depends on your ability to control the message, you have a big problem on your hands. However, there is hope. Maintaining brand integrity without control simply requires a willingness to a adopt a different type of belief. Brands that recognize and embrace the latent opportunity in this challenge are prospering and growing.

The biggest hurdle to overcome is this: learning to encourage and celebrate individual contributions without bastardizing brand equity. When people have the experience of being heard, they take a greater personal interest in the brand. When people are ignored, they become stubborn. This leads to dysfunctional behavior which, left unchecked, can poison your brand name like a cancer. Companies that listen, on the other hand, cannot help but to make allies. People quickly fall in love with the dream behind the brand. They take it on as their dream.

Starbucks, for example, has developed a web site just for listening to people’s ideas. By making a practice of listening, they have created a culture where the employees build personal relationships with the customers. They scaled up their business at record-breaking rates without compromising their values. Consider also how Apple built a culture of innovation. They accomplished this by listening.

Are you struggling in vain to maintain a stranglehold over your brand message? If so, here’s a challenge for you. Ask yourself: what have your people been trying to tell you? If you don’t know, you have your work cut out for you. What new practices could your organization put in place to give its people the experience of having their voices fully heard?

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The Death of John Doehttp://yellowwoodgroup.com/the-death-of-john-doe http://yellowwoodgroup.com/the-death-of-john-doe#respond Fri, 09 Dec 2011 21:59:52 +0000 http://olalah.com/?p=966 Segmentation based solely on demographics is harder than it used to be, and it’s not about to get any easier. There are a number of reasons for this, including the cultural shift away from “we” thinking toward “me” thinking that has driven the trend toward hyper-personalized products. However, there is a far simpler reason . […]

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Segmentation based solely on demographics is harder than it used to be, and it’s not about to get any easier. There are a number of reasons for this, including the cultural shift away from “we” thinking toward “me” thinking that has driven the trend toward hyper-personalized products. However, there is a far simpler reason . . . the proverbial John Doe is dead.

In simpler times, people felt comfortable with the idea of homogeneity. People made a point of living in close geographic proximity to people who looked and talked like they did. Being different was unfashionable. This made the marketer’s job simple. Mass producers of goods and services simply needed to figure out what the “average American” wanted, and make lots of it at a good price. People clustered themselves into big groups, and the herd mentality kept demand steady over time. Demographics usually correlated tightly with psychographics and behavioral variables.


While demographics can still play a role in segmenting your market, they are far less reliable predictors of purchasing behavior than before. Society has redefined who “John Doe” is, how he lives, and what’s important to him. There is no “average” American. In today’s self-absorbed culture, no one wants to be average. John Doe wants to be different. John Doe wants to stand out from the crowd. John Doe doesn’t want to be John Doe. What are the marketing implications of this shift?

Segmentation is more critical than ever. The science of identifying profitable market segments not only requires the mastery of more sophisticated tools and techniques, but it also requires adopting a new paradigm. You can no longer structure your market research around questions such as “what large group of people will steadily buy my products for the next ten years?” Market segments appear quickly, and they sometimes disappear the same way.

In today’s market, great marketing is about watching the radar screen and keeping your organization prepared for an ideal market segment to appear on short notice. Easier said than done? Of course. But it’s doable for companies who are willing to step up to the plate. The key to tapping this opportunity: mastery of hyper-segmentation.

The internet has made it easier than ever to reach groups of people based on individual choices they have made. This is essentially why opt-in e-mail campaigns work. It’s also why search-based advertising services like Google AdWords work. Facebook’s ad platform took things a step farther, allowing advertisers to display messages selectively based on social factors. These technologies work primarily because they allow skilled marketer to identify small, fast-moving niche segments before anyone else sees them.

Instead of designing products, services, and promotions for an imaginary John Doe, why not devise a marketing strategy that allows each market segment to voluntarily identify itself, one person at a time? You might be surprised when you learn who your market really is.

My challenge to you: what mechanisms and practices could your organization put in place that would allow hidden segments of the market to start revealing themselves to you?

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Are You Treating Millennials Like Baby Boomers?http://yellowwoodgroup.com/are-you-treating-millennials-like-baby-boomers-2 http://yellowwoodgroup.com/are-you-treating-millennials-like-baby-boomers-2#respond Fri, 25 Nov 2011 13:59:30 +0000 http://olalah.com/?p=1330 Every marketer knows the drill. People born in different eras have different values. You may think that you already took generational demographics into account when creating your marketing plan. You used Facebook and Twitter. You created YouTube ads and made sure they were less than 30 seconds long. You used 50% post-consumer recycled packaging materials. […]

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Every marketer knows the drill. People born in different eras have different values.

You may think that you already took generational demographics into account when creating your marketing plan. You used Facebook and Twitter. You created YouTube ads and made sure they were less than 30 seconds long. You used 50% post-consumer recycled packaging materials. You made sure to use Millennial language; you even threw in an emoticon and the phrase “LOL.” Shouldn’t that have covered all of the bases? [I say sheepishly.]
While Millennials may appear to mimic Boomer behavior at times, they’re not driven by the same motives. If your firm has built its past successes by marketing to Baby Boomers, there’s one critical thing you need to understand: Boomers love a good story; whereas Millennials love a good hustle. Millennials don’t take things as seriously as Boomers.

The key to selling Boomers on your brand is to get them to fall in love with the story behind it. Baby Boomers are fiercely brand loyal. The products they buy become a part of their identities. Coca-Cola understood this principle and used it effectively when they incorporated Superman in their marketing materials. They successfully sold the notion that drinking Coca-Cola was the American way. To a Boomer, selecting a brand is making a sacred pact. Boomers will stick to an inferior brand for years, just because it’s their brand. When they change brands, it’s a big deal. If you take away what they love about your products, they will feel deeply offended – even betrayed.

Millennials are almost exactly the opposite.

Millennials will drop a brand like a hot potato if a better one comes along. They don’t value their behavior as disloyal; they see it as common sense. In fact, Millennials take pride in switching up. They like to stay ahead of the curve. Brands like Apple that appear to have won the loyalty of the Millennial generation have simply learned to consistently deliver value. It is possible, albeit difficult, to earn the genuine adoration and respect of the Millennials. Understand, though, that you will have to continue to earn it, because they will jump ship as soon as you fall short.

Note that Millennials aren’t cynical like their Generation-X elders; they are simply realistic. They have no interest in feel-good stories. If you try to convince Millennials that your business is committed to taking care of their families, they will take it as an insult to their intelligence. If you focus the content of your marketing messages on the addictive qualities of your products, Millennials will respond with a gleeful smile. They won’t admit it, but they love to be sold. Millennials prefer short, direct conversations, and they find small-talk annoying. They will most often respond to marketing messages with a get-right-down-to-business feel. This same kind of message may be off-putting or even offensive to a Boomer.

Consider the case of Rovio, creator of the Angry Birds video game. You can download their game to your smart phone for free. You don’t pay for anything until you’re hooked. It’s classic crack-dealer marketing at its best. Rovio has made a fortune selling video game upgrades primarily to Millennials, because they understand precisely how the Millennial mind works. Millennials “hustle” their friends, usually by saying, “This is addictive!” Coming from a friend, that line is virtually guaranteed to perk the ears of a Millennial. Boomers, on the other hand, share products with their friends by telling heartwarming stories.

You can no longer build a brand on the greatness of a few individuals and ride the coattails of their legends for decades. Millennials don’t have that kind of attention span. If you want to win the hearts of Millennials, you have to start from scratch and win their hearts anew every day. If the Millennials had a mantra, it might be “What have you done for me in the last ten minutes?”

Challenge question: What would happen if you lost all of your Baby Boomer customers and had to rely solely on Millennials for future business? Is your organization capable of embracing the Millennial mindset? If not, what are you going to do about it? After all, the Boomers aren’t going to be around forever.

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QR Codes . . . Brilliant? Or Bust?http://yellowwoodgroup.com/qr-codes-brilliant-or-bust-2 http://yellowwoodgroup.com/qr-codes-brilliant-or-bust-2#respond Wed, 12 Oct 2011 12:03:58 +0000 http://olalah.com/?p=973 Quick Response (QR) codes make a lot of sense for the right marketing campaign, as they make it possible to bridge the end user’s offline experience to the offline experience. However, there’s a hitch. According to a recent survey, an estimated 64% of consumers do not understand the purpose of QR codes. Is that a […]

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Quick Response (QR) codes make a lot of sense for the right marketing campaign, as they make it possible to bridge the end user’s offline experience to the offline experience. However, there’s a hitch. According to a recent survey, an estimated 64% of consumers do not understand the purpose of QR codes. Is that a problem?

While these numbers might sound a bit discouraging at first glance, bear in mind that QR codes are still relatively new in the technology adoption life cycle. A significant number of people still don’t even own smart phones, but that is changing; smart phone sales are expected to increase exponentially for the next few years. Availability of hardware is not the real issue, though. Recognition lag is a far bigger impediment to QR code adoption.


The market takes time to catch on to new technologies, particularly when those technologies require behavioral changes, but there is a deeper issue here. The majority of QR codes are not used strategically, and therefore fail to deliver consistent results. When QR codes were brand new, people scanned them just because it was “cool” to do so. Predictably, that didn’t last. For this reason, marketers less familiar with the true benefits of QR codes might draw the erroneous conclusion that this technology is nothing more than a short-lived “phase.”

To make QR codes work, you need to design them into your campaign during the early stages. Instead of thinking only about where to place a QR code, think about how you will use the data you collect from user responses and how you will measure the effectiveness of the campaign.

Here are four simple and effective ways to integrate QR codes into your existing marketing campaigns.

  1. Affix QR codes on your promotional and branded items. This is especially effective if your company uses trade show booths as part of its marketing strategy. For example, you might give away note pads with a QR code in the corner of each sheet or print a QR code on a branded water bottle.
  2. Create a customized artistic QR code, using your brand colors. QR code scanners only care about contrast, not color, so you can easily make your QR code unique and memorable to humans as well as machines. You can also embed a QR code into a modified version of your company’s logo.
  3. Offer an incentive for scanning the QR code with a call-to-action. For example, you could include the text, “Scan here to receive exclusive deals.”
  4. Build intrinsic utility into the QR code itself. For example, real estate signs commonly allow passersby to instantly access detailed listing information by scanning QR codes. Recipe books with QR codes make it convenient for a user to instantly transfer the information into a phone. By making information available in a super-convenient package, you can increase your response rate considerably.

We have all driven past a billboard or seen a magazine ad that briefly piqued our curiosity. We all know how easy it is to forget these things. The principal value of QR codes lies in the fact that they make it easy for people to engage with you when they want to. You relieve them of the need to remember to do something later. Initially-interested customers, left to their own devices, will likely never remember to think about your ad again.

Challenge question: Ask yourself how you could make your printed marketing materials “stickier.” In what other ways could QR codes make it easier for your market to respond to you?

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What Marketing Could Learn From Saleshttp://yellowwoodgroup.com/marketing-learn-from-sales http://yellowwoodgroup.com/marketing-learn-from-sales#respond Thu, 29 Sep 2011 14:28:35 +0000 http://olalah.com/?p=952 To some, the line between sales and marketing is a bit blurry. Oftentimes business owners miss the mark when it comes to drawing the distinction between marketing and sales simply because they are using textbook tactics instead of real world strategies. While the definition of “sales” is more succinct, the definition of marketing is a […]

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To some, the line between sales and marketing is a bit blurry. Oftentimes business owners miss the mark when it comes to drawing the distinction between marketing and sales simply because they are using textbook tactics instead of real world strategies. While the definition of “sales” is more succinct, the definition of marketing is a mouthful according to the American Marketing Association’s website:

“Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

That’s not working for me. Is it working for you? I show business owners that marketing is as simple as “Creating awareness, interest, attraction and demand for the products and/or services you sell.” Doesn’t that just make sense? In this simplistic definition, it’s easier to see the real relationship between marketing and sales.

Let’s take a look at 3 key ways marketing could take clues from sales to add more value and create more impact to what’s wildly important to the growth of the business.

Measure against only what is important
In sales, this is very straightforward. Most sales managers hold their reps accountable for a few core metrics, the number of appointments they set, the number of sales they close and the volume of new or repeat business they generate. In sales, you can’t fake it for long because numbers don’t lie.

Taking cues from sales, marketing could easily measure:
• Number of inquiries and the timeline from inquiry to customer
• Number of visitors to your website, what those visitors did (or didn’t) do on the website and how long they stayed on the website
• Number of new subscribers to your e-mail list and what the driver was to get them on the list

I’m not suggesting that everyone will use these specific metrics. They may or may not be relevant, to your type of business. What I am pressing upon you is the need to make marketing measurable and qualify what the importance of the metric is.

Have a process to measure marketing’s impact
Sales managers follow specific and documented procedures each day at the close of business. They are continually accountable for the measurable performance of their organizations. Sales reps are often required to report their activity and results multiple times throughout the course of a day. Sales reporting tools are designed to make it easy to spot performance bottlenecks at all levels.

You must include a meaningful and measurable metric into your marketing campaigns from day one. Perhaps you’ve heard of the joke, “Half of my marketing is working, but I don’t know which half.” There is no excuse for this. If you can’t measure and track a given marketing strategy, you shouldn’t be using it.

Know when to shut up (and let the customer speak)
Have you ever seen “business card ninjas” at networking events who were more interested in talking about themselves than anything else? Competent sales professionals understand that sales is more about listening than talking. Marketing is the same way. Unfortunately, that’s something many business owners don’t understand. Contrary to popular belief, marketing is not about littering the town with your fliers. Marketing is not making as much noise as possible about your products and services. Marketing is about staying in tune with what people want and need. You can’t do that without listening.

My challenge to you: what action can you take this week that will teach you something you didn’t know about your customers? I’m not talking about customer satisfaction surveys. I’m talking about real engagement with live people.

I’m really just scratching the surface in this post, but here’s the take-away. Marketing could learn a lot from sales – they really aren’t worlds apart, like many might suggest. I’ve learned after a decade of managing both the “pipeline and the funnel” that in the end the best sales people are often incredible marketers, but incredible marketers often know nothing about sales.

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